I have blogged about this subject before, a few years ago on Veteran's Day. However, it is something that is very dear to my heart and considering some of the disturbing comments I have seen around cyberspace these last few days, I'm really feeling the need to repeat it somewhat.
This photograph has been circulating on Facebook recently, and as with most of the people commenting on it, I'm incensed when I see it. You can "blame" this picture for fueling my ire and prompting this blog post.
In the last three years, I have had a son join the Army, a husband retire from the Army, and a son-in-law join the Army. Many of our friends and loved ones have been affected by deployments to one region of the world or another. My own son spent a year in Afghanistan. We have had several opportunities to witness parades, ceremonies, and other "patriotic" functions. Lord willing, my husband and I will be able to attend the Veteran's Day Parade here in town next month. The last one we had the privilege of attending, Pete "marched" in. Well, no ... more accurately, he rode in it atop the HIMARS launcher that he trained other soldiers to repair. Pete has had several odd-feeling moments as he has experienced the military pomp and circumstance more from the audience since our son enlisted--and especially since he retired. In fact, when we attended our son-in-law's basic training graduation at Fort Jackson this past April, it got REALLY weird. Pete's father had marched across that same field both as a basic training graduate and for his own retirement ceremony before Pete even graduated from high school, and they both stood there welcoming yet another generation of our family's soldiers into the ranks as retired soldiers.
One thing I'm really not fond of seeing again at this year's parade is something we have experienced at every single one of the 'patriotic' events we've attended these last few years--the lack of respect for our flag and those who defend it. People, it's not just a piece of fabric on a pole. It represents the blood that was shed to unite this country in solidarity against outside forces that sought to abolish freedoms that our founding fathers believed in enough to sacrifice life and limb for! It stands for FREEDOM. It is identified worldwide with a nation that seeks to liberate people from tyrannical rule.
At least it used to be.
Nowadays our own people are bringing disrespect to our own flag. Many Americans are more concerned with preserving the heritage of nations they came FROM and showing how proud they are of THAT culture. We find people who are offended by the display of our OWN FLAG!!?? We have church groups (I refuse to even identify these people as "lowercase" christians ... anyone who uses the name of God to promote hatred doesn't deserve to wear His name, in my opinion, and if I'm wrong on that, I'll answer to God, thankyouverymuch!) who are making a mockery of funerals, bringing pain to people mourning the loss of soldiers while preaching anti-American false doctrine with very little regard to those men and women who have died to allow them the freedom to spew such vitrol. We have a generation who do not instinctively stand out of respect of our flag and what it stands for.
Look at that picture at the top of this post again. Look at all of those people sitting on the curb, and the handicapped veteran who is standing. He's not forcing their respect; he's not making a scene. He isn't belittling them for their lack of patriotism. He's just doing what comes naturally. And so are the ones who give no respect to the flag. Why the difference? Training.
"Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." --John Fitzgerald Kennedy
What does this nation "owe" anyone? Not a thing, save the billions of dollars we borrow to keep hundreds of meaningless programs running to super-regulate things that probably shouldn't be regulated in the first place. (woah ... soapbox. Stepping down ... )
What do we OWE our country? Respect.
Train your children to understand WHY this country exists. Train them to understand HOW it came to be. Train them to show respect. Train them to do for OTHERS and not expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. Train them to honor their elders. Train them to appreciate. Train them to show gratitude. Train their hearts to hurt when they see others hurting, and to look for ways to help. That's what makes this country great--its foundation in the principles of the Bible. It's what will return this great nation to her roots. It's what will preserve our freedoms. It's what will ensure that those veterans who stand to honor the flag they fought for will not stand alone.
UNITED we stand.
Stand up, America. For heaven's sake, get off your butts and STAND.